Raison D'Être | Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

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Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être
4,308 Ratings
Raison D'ÊtreRaison D'Être

Brewed by:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Delaware, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A deep mahogany, Belgian-style brown ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.

We began brewing this one at our pub in 1996 (we began packaging and selling it sometime in 1998) as the answer to the question, "What beer should I enjoy with a wood-grilled steak?" Raison D'Etre fits the bill. It's as tasty and complex as a fine red wine.

In the Quick Sip Clip video, Sam talks about Raison D'Etre inside the new cellars for our 600-bbl fermentation tanks. The cellars were designed specifically to allow sterile yeast management. The system also allows us to automatically dose the yeast into the fermentation tanks. At Dogfish, we use multiple strains of yeast for our different beers, so we are acutely aware of all that can go wrong when you don't love and protect the yeast.

25 IBU

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-09-2001

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,308 |  Reviews: 1,774
Photo of Georgiabeer
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark orange/amber with a nice lace. Smells of raisins and molasses. Tastes big but smooth with definite flavor of raisins and malt.The combination of flavors is reminiscent of a stone beer with its carmelised tastes. Rich and mouth coating, almost syrupy. Not my favorite in the Dogfish line, but very interesting.

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Photo of kbnooshay
2.78/5  rDev -24%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

a- This poured a deep orange amber color with an off-white head. The body is fairly clear with light to moderate carbonation

s- The smell was harsh and fruity. Quite sweet but not overly pleasant.

t- Raisins, like the bottle says but this isn't a good thing. It just doesn't work. It is grossly sweet and has a musty flavor to it.

mf/d- The feel is moderate and slick. Despite the weirdness it isn't too offensive. I suppose I could have a few but this beer lacks a sense of purpose.

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Photo of phisig137
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear ruby brown with little head, that leaves behind a good amount of lacing. The aroma of this ale is huge to say the least. Malt sugars, caramel, raisons, and brown sugar are the prevalent smells. No alcohol present on the nose.

Flavor again is massive. Caramel sweetness, slightly burnt sugar, raisons, and a slight hint of roasted grains. There is also a faint hint of diacetyl alcohol, which oddly tastes good in the mix... the butterscotch flavors mix well with the caramel like sweetness. Despite being a sweet beer, the finish is slightly dry, with a long lingering tinge of roasted grain.

Mouthfeel is full and chewy, and drinkability is dangerously high. For being 8%, its hard to tell, and goes down easy.

I've yet to be disapointed with DFH... I really feel that thier line up is hard to beat. Also, you have to respect a beer this innovative...there is simply nothing else like it out there.

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Photo of ggaughan
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Part of a Boom box case that I purchased over the weekend and enjoyed while tailgating at a DMB concert for my birthday. What a time. The beer poured a redish bronze color with a nice off white head and good lacing. The aroma had some interesting fruit notes (raisins) and malts and belgian yeast that made for a perfect bouquet. The taste was a pleasant balance of the malty caramel character and the definitely present belgian yeast that makes for a very drinkable representation of this style.

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Photo of crwills
4.28/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My last bottle of this... I think I had a four- or six-pack at one point.

Pours a dark mahogany red, with a small head. Swirling it around produces tons of lacing that last the whole way through.

Aroma is very powerful and can be detected during pouring. Dark fruits, raisins, some coffee, and toasted/roasted malt.

Taste is a little bit sweeter and lighter than expected, but still amazing. Mild chocolate notes, fruit is fresher (grapes, cherries), with remaining elements of raisins and plums. Mouthfeel is very chewy and oily. Hops really show up in the moderately bitter aftertaste, which is actually a good counterpoint to the upfront flavour complexity.

I like it a lot.

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Photo of Zorro
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed through the miracle of BIF 43 NC Lotto and hoppedup.

Pours a clear brown ale with a very slight head formation. When held up to the light this is bronze colored ale with maybe a little extra red to it.

Smell is sweet malty and bready yeast to the nose. Fair whiff of coffee aroma from dark malt and apple and grape aromas. Toffee, butterscotch and some scorched sugar aromas are also in this. Alcohol is detectable in the smell, but it carries pepper, roses and peach aromas to the nose.

Taste is sweet and a little bready at the start. A mild flavored ale the first thing that gets my attention is a little coriander and coffee and smoke flavor. Fairly malty but this seems a bit under flavored.

Mouthfeel is good.

This is certainly a drinkable beer but I really expected more from DFH. The flavor is just too mild for my tastes.

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Photo of gbarron
4.08/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 12 oz. bottle, bottled in February of '06.

A - rich brown, ruby red. Head is slightly off white, retreats to a ring around the edges. Tight bubbles. Perfectly clear.

S - a little muted. Hints of dark fruit, sugar, alcohol. Belgian yeast esters evident. No hop presence.

T - sweet, ripe, dark fruit flavors predominate, mixed with candy sugar sweetness and warming alcohol. Very sweet, hop bitterness and tartness follows at the end to attempt to balance this beer out, but sweet malt and sugar win out. Lots of interesting Belgian flavors here - raisins, plum, apricot.

M - surprisingly on the thinner side, but a medium-thin bodied brew. Carbonation is average. Sweet, sticky finish, although not overwhelming.

D - very tasty beer, if you like dark Belgian styles, definitely one to pick up and try. Despite alcohol content, I could drink a few of these in a night, no problem. Used to buy this beer by the case. Another fine offering from DFH.

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Photo of Vancer
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Now this was a drinker, even with the 8% kicker. Just gotta slow down an sip for an afternoon while BBQing.

Nice start, amber oak pour with a clingy tan head – very good looking. Aroma was a tad thin, hints of rich malts with the good ol’ Belgium yeasts. Nice transfer into the tastes, although this was very sweet for the first bottle. The raisons seemed to provide a plum-like base.

Very slick and lingering in the mouth, the Belgium sugar candy turns into maple syrup at times. Again, a slow sipper.

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Photo of russpowell
3.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours ruby red to chestnut with a 3 fingers+ sand/pink colored head in my La Chouffe wine goblet style glass. Good lacing & minimal head retention

Smell: Some barely discernable slighlty musty & leather notes

Taste:Malty caramel notes folowwed by choclate, leather & yeasty flavors Finishes with fruitty wine-like notes & dryness

MF: A little thin for the the style, but very good carbonation

Drinks easy for the strength, dut doesn't quite pull together for me

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Photo of murrayswine
3.91/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured a beautiful amber with a nice white head and steady lacing.

The smell. It's metallic. Thats it. Metallic malt.

The taste is rather different than the smell. The presence oa a spice and soft dark friuts mixed with a subtle molassis sweetness. Well developed taste.

Mothfeel is nice, steady and pleasing. It's keeping me sippin'.

All around, it's a damn nice beer with a good easy finish!

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Photo of rarevos
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Poured a deep reddish-brown. Very temporary head, little to no lacing.

S: Prunes, malt, toffee. Perfectly balanced.

T: A hint of chocolate in the finish, particularly as the beer warms. Enjoyed the last half of the beer more than the first because of this. Somewhat invigorating, no bitterness to speak of. Despite the high alcohol content, no alcohol flavor (or aroma).

M: Not syrupy despite the sweet aroma and flavor. A bit flat by the end, but I drew this one out, so that's my own fault.

D: Pretty filling, actually. Not a beer I'd have several of in a row, but still very pleasant.

Notes: Frankly, for the price, I prefer the Ommegang, which also happens to be more easily available in my region.

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Photo of NolateM
3.47/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

The appearance of this beer was literally near perfect. Poured into a weizen glass (just cuz I like weizen glasses, even though I don't like most wheat beers), it had the most beautiful rich mahogany color I've ever seen in a beer, with a SLIGHTLY tan, mostly white head. The head sorta disappeared after a sip, but a thin layer lingered around for a while (which I always find quite nice), not too much lacing though.

The aroma wasn't particularly impressive. Alcohol and yeast basically, it didn't have me too excited.

On the first sip I went "Hey, I like this!" Definitely can taste the raisins, some caramel notes, and alcohol presence. It reminded me a little bit of a milder version of Ommegang, actually. A few sips in though, the flavor seemed a bit weak for some reason, as if it were a bit watered down. I'm not sure why the first sip had me so impressed, but then eventually I started going "meh." Although when I paired it with a piece of sharp cheddar, the flavor seemed to improve again.

One thing I will definitely give this beer a ton of points for is the mouthfeel. It has the cleanest finish I've ever even imagined in a beer. Not a hint of lingering bitterness or dry-mouth feeling whatsoever. I've never had a beer quite like that before.

I'd say give it a try, it ain't too shabby, just not particularly as full-bodied as I'd expected.

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Photo of blitz134
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Received in 2MBBIF from Vancer...thanks...

Brownish, red body. Perfectly clear. Very light tan head, not much formed on the pour and only left a ring around the glass with a skimming of bubbles on the top.

I think this smells really good although varies a bit from the typical aromas of the style. Sweet and inviting. Tons of complexity at the temperature I have it at. The golden raisins are definately present along with some unripe plums. Sugary sweet but still has an earthy, nutty malt undertone. Sweet alcohol rears its head as well. Unique.

Taste has some darker fruit aspects, raisins again, but more of the dark variety. I think the beet sugar is obvious to, its a more pungent dark brown type sugar as opposed to the sweeter candylike sugar used in most Belgians. A bit of earthiness again comes in with the malts. Finish has a typical Belgian twang, most likely from the yeast. An alcohol twang (sorry for the use of twang more than once) is present as well. Overall a good flavor but has this twangy, funkiness that is a little to forward. I think its a bit unbalance with its sweetness.

Mouthfeel is decent, medium bodied. Not much carbonation. Drinkability suffers from the twang and the hint of alcohol in the flavor, it makes this one a bit rough around the edges. A bit too sweet to have more than one. Good and I'd have another at some point...just not tonight.

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Photo of maundythirsty
2.14/5  rDev -41.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

12 oz. bottle into a goblet.

It's a beautiful crystal-clear dark mahogany color. That's how they describe it on the label, and they're not screwing around. The head fell in a hurry, but clung to the glass and built little islands here and there. I got excited, because I'd heard good things.

It smells like raisins and Dimetapp. Like malted raisins and Dimetapp. I was surprised at how powerful the raisins were, and maybe thinking that I read the label a little too carefully.

Maybe I wasn't in the mood for what the beer was presenting, but I went right back to the label. This beer tastes like beet sugar, green raisins and medicine. And not in a good way. I hate to be so harsh, but I did not finish it. Mouthfeel was a little syrupy, but not uncomfortable.

After a half-dozen sips I figured I'd wait for some other time to try another bottle before reviewing it, but I'm not sure I want to drink another. I don't know where they're going with this stuff. I was so powerfully repelled that I feel like I have to give it another shot, but it will be a while.

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Photo of jwff
3.66/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Honestly the last color I'd expect this beer to be was red, but it works. A nice dark red tint with a fleeting head that spottily covers the top and loads of beautiful bubbles streaming upwards. Smell is of cherries and syrupy chocolate with a bit of yeast thrown in for good measure. Overall though it's kind of medicinal. Taste is along the same lines except richer and more balanced. Cocoa seems to round out this one with dark malts and a faint hint of cherry tartness mixed with a dulling raisin character. Balanced in the mouth and avoids being overly think/syrupy while retaining the high abv. Another offering from DFH that manages to completely alienate the diabetics.

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Photo of HoustonTX
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Amazing pour. Deep brown, with a red tint. Slight head, with prominent lacing.

S - Plums/Raisins and dark grains.

T - Very different, tastes almost stout like. Rich on the palate and extremely complex. Raisins/Hops/Sugar, all blended to create a well balanced flavor, very unique.

M - Full and creamy.

D - The 8% is well masked, and these have a wonderful flavor.

Dogfish Head makes some amazing brews, and this is definitely one of them. Try one of these for a unique experience.

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Photo of KFaulkner
3.33/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

As a big fan of the Dogfish Head Brewery, I was excited to try this unique brew. And unique is an understatement.

The first thing that struck me was the color; it's gorgeous. A reddish-brown that just screams "drink me!" The smells is kind of earthy and not particularly hoppy. I know the Dogfish guys like taking risks, so this is something different by far.

The beer itself is a little thicker than I expected; it's relatively filling. The taste is very unique. I'm not sure that I can specifically taste the green raisins, but the taste is different. It goes down smooth and has a nice mouthfeel, but as I said, it's a little filling.

The 8% ABV is masked well by the complex flavors present in this beer. I would recommend trying this to anyone who is a big fan of unique craft beers; but probably not the best for those of you who still insist on Miller Lite when bellying up to the bar. All in all though, another fantastic achievement by the Dogfish guys. Salute!

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vom fuss at The DFH Alehouse in Gaithersburg MD Served in a Pt glass. The color is a deep dark brown with amber hues. The head was small light tan and fades to a nice simple lace.

Smell is of dark fruit and alcohol.

Taste is warm alcohol like with fruit. Some what smooth but not enough malt and hops, but not bad either, saved by the darker roasted malts.

Mouthfeel not bad, average nice body.

Drinkability is not very high as the alcohol taste and the dark fruit are not very exciting.


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Photo of Naes
2.26/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

This beer pours out brown in color with hues of orange and red. It has a tall off-white head that retains and laces well.
The aroma is sugary sweet and has notes of wine grapes and raisins.
The flavor is very fruity with a strong caramel malt presence. The alcohol is noticeable, but the flavor remains dominated by sugary sweet malts.
The mouth feel is thick and becomes a bit syrupy.
Overall, this one is just over sweetened for my likings.

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Photo of BeerRun13
3.28/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a very nice clear deep auburn. A small off white head produces good lacing.
A sharp raisiny alcohol aroma with maybe a touch of chocolate.
Something just really misses out here, but I'm going to really contribute it to the mouthfeel. I taste the raisiny chocolate flavor which is good, but I think the flavor flattens out a bit because of the mouthfeel. It is still a decent flavor that tastes like something between a Barley Wine and a Stout.
I think it's maybe a bit undercarbonated, it just has a flat feel to it. Flat and syruppy. I hope this is just my bottle, and would try it again.
Is an okay beer. Would be more drinkable and tasty with a little more fiz.

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Photo of Cresant
4.23/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a goblet from the tap at O'Shea's Irish Pub.

No head when it arrived at the table. Some foam ring remained but eventually disapated. Body was a rich red/brown.

Aroma was mild, pleasant, & sweet.

Taste was of hints of prunes and citrus, the alcohol was well hidden. Not too sweet.

Mouthfeel was incredibly smooth, without feeling thick. Very low carbonation.

Very drinkable! A real surprise. I expected a heavier beer. I ordered it on name alone--Dogfish Head. I'm glad I did. I will go back for more.

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Photo of clickpush
4.23/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pour: 12oz bottle to pint glass. Comes out a very clear, "deep mahogany" color w/ a finger of off-white head that settles into a frothed-milk thickness then into a complex array of lacings and bubbles that are soapy looking and iridescent. Average looking carbonation within the glass.

Nose: Smells very sweet - of malt and sugar, vanilla, fruit juice, coffee and bananas!

Mouth: The beer enters with sharp carbonation that melts into a great creaminess on its way back, but still manages to keep some sparkle to tickle under the tongue and on the roof of the mouth. Very sweet, toffee like malts and grape juice flavors. Has a slight presence of plastic in the swallow, but even this is hardly disagreeable. It's very complex and fruity - beyond just grapes. It reminds me of a barley wine, and finishes with a vanilla/banana tainted alcoholic warmth on the exhale.

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Photo of Drew966
2.86/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Dogfish Head Raison D'etre pours a mahogany brown with a fluffy light brown head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. The smell is on the sweet side, with alcohol being noticeable. Flavor is estery at first, with alcohol and raisons being next up. The finish is kind of malty. Some burn from the alcohol is noticeable after the finish. Well it's different, not really my thing. Worth a try, but really didn't do it for me.

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Photo of ReDave
3.63/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dark cream colored head, that doesn't last. no lace. aroma malty with some other sweetness noticed. Different flavors hit you at once. a bitterness that isn't typical hoppyness. slight alcohol feeling in the back of throat. very different tasting. Has some Belgian influences, but more fruitiness.

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Photo of DaggerEyes
3.55/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

brown 12 oz bottle poured into a chalice

Dark brown with some golden ruby hints when held up to the light. A small fizzy head rises and disappates into decent soapy looking lacing on the surface.

Nose of grape, bubblegum

Carmel, raisin, bubblegum and alchohol are present on the taste. Not anywhere near as tasty as I remember this being a few months back...perhaps since I've been experiencing a a lot more the world of craft brewing has to offer I've become a far harsher critic.

Nice amount of carbonation active on the tounge but the body feels a bit thin. Nice finish.

All in all not a bad beer to kick around with, have with a burger, but nowhere near as good as it was when I was newer to the craft brew scene and not the "best beer in america" as it claims on the six pack carton.

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Raison D'Être from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 4,308 ratings